2. Moore's Law has definitely slowed
The time between introducing logic products on a new process technology node is now three years, not two, said Bob Gleason who is part of the team that develops the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS). He expects the slower pace to continue at least for the next three years.
The culprit, of course, is lithography. The industry has been doing miracles getting the 193nm Argon Fluoride scanners (introduced in 2007) to print ever smaller features. Extreme ultraviolet lithography is still the big hope for speeding things up again, but it continues to be delayed. (See No. 8 on this list.)
Intel is the poster child, not only for Moore's Law, but also for the slowdown. Ultramobile PCs with their 14nm processors are expected to miss the back-to-school rush, but they should hit the shelves before Christmas. That's about a year later than expected, according to Dick James, an analyst at Chipworks.
"No matter what Intel says, Moore's Law is slowing down," said Bob Johnson, a semiconductor analyst for Gartner. "Only a few high-volume, high-performance apps can justify 20 nm and beyond." He sees problems ahead for logic chips in general. The smartphone market is nearing saturation, ultramobiles are canabalizing PCs, and "logic is running out of gas."
The good news is memory is surging. Johnson expects NAND flash to drive capex growth of 7.1% for this year and 5.3% on a compound basis for 2013-2018.
Serge Tedesco, a lithography researcher at CEA-Leti, said Moore's Law could hit an economic wall before it smacks into a technical one. The typical 30% cost decreases with each node have flattened to about half that level. (See images on this page.)
Next page: Panasonic marks a milestone, for Intel